Public Papers of Lyndon B. Johnson, 1963-1964

Contents:
Author: Lyndon B. Johnson  | Date: March 4, 1964

208
Remarks Upon Presenting the First Eleanor Roosevelt Memorial Award to Judge Anna M. Kross.
March 4, 1964

Miss Carper, Judge Kross, Ambassador Stevenson, Justice Black, Miss Perkins, members of the Roosevelt family, distinguished guests, my fellow Americans:

I came here tonight on the positive assurance of Elsie Carper that I could count this appearance as another press conference. Unaccustomed as I am to bright lights, it is good to be able to see all of you again.

I think I should tell you that the stories they write about the White House being in the dark are greatly exaggerated. There is some truth in the statement that Lynda and Luci do study by kerosene lamps, occasionally, but it is on the ranch and not in Washington. But when the sun comes up, we always open the curtains.

I would like, at this time, to make a policy announcement. I am unabashedly in favor of women. A writer once observed, a bit critically, that American women seek a perfection in their husbands that English women find only in their butlers. But that only proves to me that American women have a taste for style and a yearning for excellence. Moreover, women can get tough about what they believe in.

I used to think I could spell, but my daughter, Luci, corrected me on that count. I remember that old maxim, "I before E, except after C." But Luci, with a great zest for innovation, has changed it to be, "I after C, instead of Y."

But assuming that Elsie’s assurance has the advice and the consent of this body, let me start my press conference tonight by making some appointments, and one of them is from your very own. To do this I am having to scoop several departments,’ but, then, I think a President should be entitled to a few prerogatives.

Yesterday Mrs. Jane Hanna became the Defense Department’s highest ranking woman, when she was appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary for Defense. Tonight I want to make the following appointments:

To the Interstate Commerce Commission, the first lady ever to serve as a member of that body, Mrs. Virginia Mae Brown, of Charleston, W. Va. She was formerly Assistant Attorney General of West Virginia and she is now serving as the great Public Service Commissioner of that State.

To become the head of the Women’s Bureau of the Department of Labor, Mrs. Mary Keyserling, distinguished economist.

To the Advisory Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs, Miss PaulineTompkins, Executive Secretary [General Director] of the American Association of University Women.

To be appointed as Special Consultant to the Secretary of Labor on Youth Employment, Mrs. India Edwards.

As the Director of the Office of Public Information of the Small Business Administration, Miss Rose McKee.

Specialist on the Research Grants Program, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Dr. Eleanor Poland, of Kansas City, Mo.

As a new member of the Advisory Committee of the United States Information Agency, Mrs. Norman Chandler of the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles, Calif.

As Special Assistant to the Chief of Protocol, Department of State, Mrs. Barbara Bolling.

As consultant to the United States Office of Aging and Coordinator, Senior Citizens Month, Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Mrs. Herbert Stars.

And I am appointing as an ambassador, Mrs. Katharine Elkus White from Red Bank, N.J., whose father was also an ambassador. The country to which she is being appointed is being notified tonight and we will announce what country this is in a matter of days.1

1 On March 20 the White House announced that Mrs. White would be appointed as Ambassador to Denmark. Her father, Abram I. Elkus, served as Ambassador to Turkey under President Wilson.

This should, with the announcements that have preceded this one and the ones that will follow this one, serve notice that this administration is not running a stag party.

Tonight we have come here to honor Eleanor Roosevelt.

My heart stirs with memories as I see so many members of the Roosevelt family and as I see so many of President Roosevelt’s friends, aides, associates, and partners in his work and allies in his cause.

Thirty-one years ago today, Franklin Delano Roosevelt became the 32d President of the United States. Just as importantly, Eleanor Roosevelt assumed the duties of the First Lady of the land, and by her works soon became the Best Lady of the land.

She was the First Lady and the Best Lady for many more compelling reasons than the fact that she happened to be the wife of the President. She lived a sheltered girlhood. She was by nature and inclination and heritage a shy girl, schooled for a retiring life. But out of the many choices which her life presented and permitted, Eleanor Roosevelt chose to give priority to the difficult and not to the easy; priority to the demanding and not to the agreeable; priority to the worthwhile and never to the worthless.

The Roosevelts carried on, in their time, the struggle to bring to the people that which was just and all that was decent-and to make certain that the few who had much closed ranks to help the many who had little. And as President Roosevelt gave new courage to his country at a time when courage was sorely needed, his wife was an extension of his voice and his purpose.

In the coal mines and in the corn fields, she was there among the people. Across the rivers and beyond the mountains, in the big cities and in the small towns, Eleanor Roosevelt was there.

Poverty was her concern, peace was her hope, people were her passion.

One of my wife’s favorite authors, Scott Fitzgerald, defined America as "a willingness of the heart." How better can we sum up the thrust of Eleanor Roosevelt’s impact on an America that needed her compassion-and always welcomed her concern.

And how up to date is her philosophytonight! For if this administration has a theme, it is: to make this country peaceful and strong and secure militarily; to keep this country solvent and sturdy economically; and to ensure that this Government always has a compassion for all, especially the underprivileged, to always demonstrate "a willingness of the heart."

For this reason, and for others, I am insisting that women play a larger role in the Government’s plans and in the Government’s programs. Women, to a greater extent than men, have this "willingness of the heart." Moreover, they have an instinct for rightness that is quite important to decision making, more important than numbers or logic.

In the fields of education and the arts, I intend to bring women of imagination and energy to the fore.

I am looking at one that turned me down for an important executive assignment the other day. I talked to two bankers today, who are women, and they turned me down for other assignments. So you women are going to have to do a job on the women and if you do that, we will take care of them in the Government.

In our war on poverty you can expect women to be in the front lines of our every attack. If we are to do something of value that will benefit those whose lives are a struggle in poverty, then women must be involved, not because they are women, but because they bring assets to help us win this fight. This war on poverty will take endless patience and ceaseless toil, but we intend to win it.

And if there are any doubting Thomases, I want them to know that our determination to enlist women in this administration is no sporadic, election year objective. It will be a continuing aim, not because it is politic, but because it is sound.

This great lady whom we honor tonight understood this all her life. She was always militant where there was injustice. She was always demanding where there was need. She was always outspoken in the cause of the weak.

I think I should interpolate what a very great lady from the great country of Finland said to me, when she came here to get the Finnish loan and after she had been turned down all over the place, she finally went to Mrs. Roosevelt and Mrs. Roosevelt sent her over to see the Under Secretary of State, got her an appointment. And she told him the troubles of little Finland.

The Under Secretary said, "Yours is not a bankable transaction, but I am going to make the loan, because I can’t turn both you and Mrs. Roosevelt down." And the loan was made and repaid and a nation was saved, because of the courage and understanding of two great women.

Yes, she was always outspoken in the cause of the weak. I remember following her on the dusty roads of Texas, in the slums of our cities, when she was talking to children who were hulling grapefruit rinds that they had picked out of a garbage can. She was never too tired or weary to help the humble or the meek and to give those who needed it just a little lift.

That is why, though she is gone, she will never die. That is why, if she were here tonight, she would be by our side urging us on to do more for those who need it most.

Thank you and good night.

NOTE: The President spoke at 9:20 p.m., after the presentation ceremony, at the Statler Hilton Hotel in Washington. In his opening words he referred to Elsie Carper, President of the Women’s National Press Club, sponsor of the Eleanor Roosevelt memorial award, Judge Anna M. Kross, Commissioner of Corrections of New York City, Ambassador Adlai Stevenson, U.S. Representative to the United Nations, Justice of the Supreme Court Hugo L. Black, Frances Perkins, former Secretaryof labor, and the following members of the Roosevelt family: Representative and Mrs. James Roosevelt, Under Secretary of Commerce and Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr., Mr. and Mrs. John Roosevelt, and Mr. and Mrs. Curtis Roosevelt.

The citation accompanying the Eleanor Roosevelt Golden Candlestick Award presented to Judge Kross reads as follows:

"For her unique career of public service over fifty years, for her campaign to assure equal justice for all, poor as well as rich, Negro as well as white, women as well as men, for her years of service upon the bench of New York’s Magistrate Court, for her work in founding the Court’s social service bureau and establishing the first public school to be held in a prison, for her initiative and her courage in bringing about major reforms in New York City’s penal system, for her championship of the downtrodden, her labors in behalf of youth, her success in bringing a woman’s heart and a woman’s insight to bear on the darkest social problems, the first Eleanor Roosevelt Golden Candlestick Award of the Women’s National Press Club is presented to Judge Anna M. Kross, the Commissioner of Corrections of New York City."

Contents:

Related Resources

None available for this document.

Download Options


Title: Public Papers of Lyndon B. Johnson, 1963-1964

Select an option:

*Note: A download may not start for up to 60 seconds.

Email Options


Title: Public Papers of Lyndon B. Johnson, 1963-1964

Select an option:

Email addres:

*Note: It may take up to 60 seconds for for the email to be generated.

Chicago: Lyndon B. Johnson, "208 Remarks Upon Presenting the First Eleanor Roosevelt Memorial Award to Judge Anna M. Kross.," Public Papers of Lyndon B. Johnson, 1963-1964 in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson, 1963-1964 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), Pp.1673-1674 335–337. Original Sources, accessed October 3, 2022, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=L8F2MXGY3CXNQ7Q.

MLA: Johnson, Lyndon B. "208 Remarks Upon Presenting the First Eleanor Roosevelt Memorial Award to Judge Anna M. Kross." Public Papers of Lyndon B. Johnson, 1963-1964, in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson, 1963-1964 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), Pp.1673-1674, pp. 335–337. Original Sources. 3 Oct. 2022. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=L8F2MXGY3CXNQ7Q.

Harvard: Johnson, LB, '208 Remarks Upon Presenting the First Eleanor Roosevelt Memorial Award to Judge Anna M. Kross.' in Public Papers of Lyndon B. Johnson, 1963-1964. cited in , Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson, 1963-1964 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), Pp.1673-1674, pp.335–337. Original Sources, retrieved 3 October 2022, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=L8F2MXGY3CXNQ7Q.